On the Origins of Consorting Laws
Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford; University of Sydney - Faculty of Law
December 1, 2013
Melbourne Univeristy Law Review, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2013
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 13/88
Consorting laws have piqued the attention of Australian legislatures. In the last year alone, two states have re-enacted these offenses, which criminalize repeated association with criminals. Such measures, though, have a pedigree stretching over seven centuries. This article offers an historical analysis of consorting offenses, placing them in the context of a long line of statutes that criminalized the act of associating with undesirable classes of people. It traces their emergence from the beginnings of English vagrancy legislation in the late-medieval period, to early attempts in the Australasian colonies to suppress inchoate criminality, and then to 20th century efforts to tackle organized criminal activities. What emerges is that consorting offenses are neither a modern phenomenon nor one restricted to the antipodes.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: Legal history, vagrancy laws, consorting offenses, organized crime, reception of English law, inchoate criminality, motorcycle gangs, anti-bike legislation
JEL Classification: K10, K30Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: December 2, 2013
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